Friday, September 22, 2017

Portrait of a Princess

Gigi wasn't feeling well last night. She didn't vomit as she sometimes does, but she clearly wasn't comfortable and it wasn't obvious why. I had to move her to get my legs in bed, after which she just sat up and stared at us instead of settling down again. Clay took her outside at some point during the night, after which she acted like she couldn't get back into bed. She actually spent part of the night laying on a dog bed on the floor. That's unheard of and a definite sign that something is wrong.

She seemed to have trouble coming down stairs, doing so only after much prompting and then very slowly and cautiously. In the office this morning she spent more time sitting up rather than laying down, as if it hurt her to do so or she couldn't do so comfortably. She didn't eat this morning either, but that happens occasionally and I really don't call the vet every time it happens. But Gigi is probably nine years old now, which is beginning to push the envelope for a Great Dane, so I worry.

The result was that I did call the vet today and made an appointment to take her in this afternoon, not because she wasn't eating but because of how uncomfortable she seemed to be. We went in and had a pretty thorough workup done: exam, blood work, and xrays. The good news is that everything seemed normal. I opted to get her vaccines done as well rather than have them come due one at a time over the next six months. We made it into her annual check up and exam visit so I didn't feel like a complete fool for dragging her in there.

She seemed more active and animated by the time we got home. She ran upstairs, jumped on the bed, but came down again when I called her. I offered her this morning's food again and she ate it all like nothing was ever wrong. Apparently she just needed daddy to drop a few hundred bucks on her and be the center of attention for the day. It's fair to say that she played me like a violin, as she has done since the day we met. She got her nails done too.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Felix visit: hike, play, sleep

Felix has been visiting this week. I finally got him out for a hike with Maya on Wednesday. We went over five miles and clocked the fastest pace we've had since we had cold weather last spring or winter. I wanted to get in the miles, but the pace is totally attributable to Felix.

Felix likes to set a fast pace, but he also likes to stop frequently, to sniff, mark, or lay in the shade. After the first couple of miles he finally realized that I don't play that game, we were out there to MOVE. I did take a couple breaks in shade spots and a longer one when we hit the water.

Felix would occasionally pick a shady spot, stop, lay down,
and proceed to roll on the grass, while I was still walking.

Thistles in bloom

Nice picture of my little girl, Maya

We had covered over three miles before our first water
crossing so it was very welcome. We stayed for several minutes.
Felix didn't stand in the water and drink like most dogs,
he laid down in it, which is great for cooling off.

This was one of our authorized stops in the shade.

 Clay and I went to Richmond in the afternoon and I'm sure Maya and Felix slept, but Felix was fully recharged when we got back home in the evening. Here he is playing with TJ.

The two boys had a pretty good play session. Most of the
pictures are nothing but blurs. 
TJ is getting a little better at dealing with new dogs.
That's sort of a must in our household. He had no
problem with Felix and even initiated the play.

TJ occupying one of the dog beds on the floor next to my side of the bed.

Felix and TJ. The only one not happy about this was Vince because he's usually on one of these
two beds next to me and he gets worried if they are taken by other dogs. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sick, tired, and bored

I've been messing around with a summer cold the last few days and am sick of it. It was really pretty minor as illnesses go, more of an annoyance than anything else, but I haven't felt like doing much so I haven't been. I don't do nothing very well and today I decided I was over it. The cold was reduced to nothing more than a small dry cough. At that point the boredom felt worse than the cold so I hit the trails this evening with Maya and TJ. I was only planning to do a short one, maybe a couple miles, but it felt good to be out again and we ended up with a little over four miles.

It did wonders for my attitude, which I'm sure the dogs noticed. I will take a shower and wash the rest of the cold from my system. Another good night's sleep and it should all be behind us.

Rex continues to recover well from the first round of heartworm treatment. He really is a very nice, easy going dog. Rather laid back for a shepherd. I brought Sherman, the English Bulldog, into the house and into the pack today. More on that tomorrow.
They don't show up well here, but the forest floor was dotted
with white mushrooms today.

TJ and Maya jumping over a log on the trail.
TJ held up pretty well for four miles today.
We didn't do any hilly areas and it was evening
and fairly decent out by the time we went.

This is the river overlook. I take this photo a lot in the spring
and fall. You can barely see the river now, but in a few more
weeks the leaves will be falling fast.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


"Y'all Means ALL" was this year's theme*
Today was Charlottesville's Gay Pride event. We usually miss it because we've usually been in the UK at this time of year. We were here this year and although Clay was working, I went. In the past it had always been held in Lee Park, now Emancipation Park, but it had outgrown the space and was held in the pavilion on the downtown mall this year. It was well produced and very well attended; I think it has to be considered an unqualified success. But it felt weird to me.

That's Felix in the center, Vince in the rear,
and Scarlett in front.
Every once in a while it occurs to me that we know very few gay people these days. As I was walking around the festival and thinking who I might run into, most of them were straight people. That's both good and bad. It's good that so many progressive straight friends would be in attendance, but bad that I knew so few people of my own tribe. Partly that's a sign of the times -- we are everywhere and we no longer need to live in a gay ghetto. Partly it's a function of age. I pulled out an old gay t-shirt to wear to the event. It was from the 1993 March on Washington. It is both older than my relationship with Clay and older than many of the people in attendance to today's event.

Fortunately, I did manage to run into a few of the gay people I know in Charlottesville. It's good to know them. Yes, I have friends I can call to help dispose of a body. But, say that some Nazi/christian/republican turns up dead on my doorstep. What I would really need is a soul sister to show up and drive a stake through the bastard's heart to make double damn sure they are dead and in hell before we dispose of the body. That's a job for the gay mafia.

Scarlett and Felix
I had another reason to be proud today, however, and it concerned my little girl, Maya. We've been boarding former foster Scarlett for a few days. She went home today but we took in former foster Felix to take her place for the next week. Felix is a sweet boy and I didn't expect any problem with him and any of our other dogs, with the possible exception of TJ, who can be a bit of a butthead with new male dogs.

I brought Felix in and introduced him to Scarlett, Vince, and then Maya. After Maya saw him and knew who he was, I brought in TJ. The boys started in with typical male posturing, but Maya told them both to cool it. TJ tried to hump Felix and I stopped it. Maya then humped Felix and I let her, so everyone knew who was in charge. After that TJ and Felix both made some more playful overtures towards each other and I think they will be fine. Most important, the two of them did not get into a pissing match all over my house.
Felix and Maya, with her tail held high and
fluffed out.

 My little girl is growing up. I couldn't be more proud.

That's TJ in the middle now.

TJ with his head over Felix's back.
Maya made everyone keep their cool.

She stayed between them, talked to them, and
apparently they listened.
Felix meeting Trooper (left) and Gigi (right) in the dog yard.

That's Theo in the middle now, Gigi in front, Felix in back,
and Sparky in the far back right.

That's Theo checking out Felix in the back, Max in front
with a piece of firewood in his mouth. 

This is a nice picture of Scarlett. She is an easy keeper when
she's here, but she's happiest when she's back home.

* This is the famous hat from this year's Pride. The story came out about a week ago that the vendor who had been asked to print the hats had refused, saying they didn't want to get involved in anything "political." It was quickly discovered that the same vendor had done a job printing a right wing logo, so it became obvious that they just didn't want to cause another hurricane by angering their stupid god like so many gay wedding cake bakers had obviously done. Progress is slow and uneven at times. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Yet so many still insist on proudly taking their place on the wrong side of history.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Power Walk

Walk softly and lead a big shepherd. 

I have a bad case of tail envy. I think we got short changed
by evolution on this feature.
I've been working up to this walk for the past couple of weeks. Max can be difficult to walk by himself. Add Theo and you've more than doubled the force. Maya was along to take charge of the combined shepherd brain.

This picture exaggerates Theo's size in relation to Max.
Theo was standing uphill and Max was crouching a bit.

Everyone made good use of the water crossings today.

Deer alert

We did a little over five miles and the first two weren't too bad. Then we got into some woods near the river and away from where most people walk. Predictably, they spotted some deer. I was prepared, however, and I switched Max's leash from the harness he was wearing to a prong collar. Even then I had to keep him on a short leash right by my side to keep him under control. I took Theo's leash and did the under belly loop which must be uncomfortable because it really slowed him down. 

Here you can see the way I've looped the leash around Theo's
waist. It made it possible to control him.

Cutting off a shepherd's ears in a picture
is a cardinal sin, but it's still a nice close
up of Theo's face.
It was a good walk and they should sleep well tonight.
I expect to be sore tomorrow.